When I was introduced to Words Their Way last school year, it was fast and furious and I did not implement it with fidelity. It sounded GREAT when our literacy coach presented it to us at a staff meeting and I couldn't wait to try it out. Unfortunately, we never really got more training than that, and I tried to piece together what I could. Long story short, I did not like Words Their Way by the end of last year. Lots of cutting and not a lot of growth. Boo.
Until now! I have a new teammate this year, and we sat down during a PLC meeting to try to figure out just how to make this program work for us. She had never heard of WTW before, which actually was a positive because it forced me to do more research myself! Once I was able to fully explain my version of WTW to her (because what's that saying, you know you understand when you can teach it to someone else?), we started working on the actual implementation. And this is why our 30 minute PLC time turned into 2 hours...
But I think we finally came up with a great solution! We each have about 40 minutes of phonics/word study time in our classrooms. This is also our intervention time when some students with services get pulled a couple of times a week. We knew we could not have any new instruction during this time because those students would miss our Tier 1 instruction (we follow the RTI model in our school). So this is how we scheduled our time (Click on the schedule to download a copy):
This schedule has allowed me to be able to check in with each of my four groups every single day. I like that I am still able to do a minilesson with everyone, but depending on what sort they are on, the minilesson will differ. This has also allowed me to be able to see exactly what letters/sounds/words students are having trouble with. Since we stick with the same sort for four days in a row, my students are able to get plenty of time to work with a skill and I get plenty of time to provide support for particular skills.
Our group makeup looks like this:
The groups are differentiated based on their skill level. They do different sorts that focus on different letters, sounds, or words. What would normally seem to be daunting is much easier since I have scheduled myself to rotate around and deliver the quick minilessons for each group. While I am with a group, the rest of the students are actively engaged in their own activity.
On Day 4 of our Word Study schedule, I have felt that there was something missing beyond what is provided in the workbooks for writing and illustrating to apply the sort. I created a sentence-making activity for students to complete that will ask them to read the words on their own. This is much more challenging for some students, so I made sure to create two sentences for each sort in the Letter Naming book (one easier than the other). It includes sentences for Letter Naming sorts 1-26. Check back for another set for more sorts!